Schizophrenia Treatment in San Diego

Understanding Schizophrenia

California schizophrenia treatment center

Schizophrenia is a serious mental health disorder that causes people to interpret reality abnormally and affects less than one percent of the U.S. population. Individuals with schizophrenia can experience delusions, hallucinations, lack of motivation, trouble thinking, disorganized speech, and extremely disordered thinking and behaviors. It can impair daily functioning and be disabling. However, schizophrenia treatment in San Diego can greatly improve symptoms and help individuals live full, productive lives.

Individuals with schizophrenia will experience continuous relapsing episodes and there is no cure for the disorder. With medication management, therapy, self-care techniques, and holistic treatments, individuals can manage their symptoms and reduce the likelihood of recurring episodes.  The complexity of schizophrenia has led to many misconceptions about the disease; however, experts are learning more each day about its leading to the development of new and more effective therapies.

Getting treatment during the early onset of symptoms can improve treatment outcomes greatly and reduce the likelihood of experiencing a mental health crisis related to schizophrenia. Alter Mental Health in San Diego offers intensive, short-term mental health stabilization to help individuals experiencing a mental health crisis or schizophrenic episode get the immediate help they need and are on track toward long-term recovery.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Symptoms of schizophrenia usually develop when a person is in their late teens or early 30s and they tend to develop earlier in males than females. Individuals may begin to show unusual behaviors from childhood, but they become more apparent as they get older. In other cases, the symptoms may appear suddenly which can be frightening, debilitating, and lead to self-harming behaviors.

Schizophrenia affects each person differently. The disorder can appear in episodes when symptoms are active and periods when the person is “in remission”. However, schizophrenia symptoms can return unpredictably as well. This disorder is a type of psychosis, meaning the person cannot always tell the difference between what is real. Symptoms can include:

  • Disorganized thinking and speech: Schizophrenia can make it difficult to concentrate or maintain a train of thought, which can cause the person to speak incoherently, say illogical things, shift topics frequently, or respond to questions with unrelated answers.
  • Delusions: Beliefs that are not based in reality, such as the belief you are being persecuted or having an exceptional ability.
  • Hallucinations: Involve seeing or hearing things that are not there. While hallucinations can include any of the senses, hearing voices is the most common hallucination.
  • Negative symptoms: Individuals can have reduced or lack of ability to function normally, such as maintaining personal hygiene. They may also appear to have a lack of emotion, such as speaking in a monotone or lack of facial expression. Also, the person may be socially withdrawn, unable to experience pleasure or lose interest in everyday activities.

Schizophrenia in teens may be more difficult to recognize, usually in part because some of the early symptoms of schizophrenia are common during teen years, such as:

  • Irritability or depressed mood.
  • Reduced performance at school.
  • Withdrawing from family and friends.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Sleep issues.

Diagnosing Schizophrenia in San Diego

Unfortunately, schizophrenia causes a lack of awareness that difficulties stem from a mental disorder which means getting help often falls on friends or family to get them to help. While someone can exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia, a diagnosis can only be made by a medical doctor or mental health specialist. There is no single test for diagnosis of schizophrenia. The first step in diagnosing schizophrenia in San Diego is a psychological evaluation and a complete medical exam to rule out other conditions such as bipolar disorder, substance abuse, medical condition, or other possible causes.

Psychological evaluations include observing appearance and demeanor, asking about thoughts, moods, hallucinations, delusions, substance abuse, and potential for violence or suicide, and discussing of family and personal history. A doctor may order imaging studies, such as MRI or CT scan, as well as blood tests and other physical exams to rule out other problems that may be causing symptoms. A doctor or mental health professional may use criteria lined out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5), which includes experiencing at least 2 of the following symptoms:

  • Hallucinations.
  • Delusions.
  • Disorganized speech.
  • Disorganized or catatonic behavior.
  • Negative symptoms.

At least 1 of the symptoms must be the presence of hallucinations, delusions, or disorganized speech, and symptoms must persist for at least 6 months. Alter Mental Health offers quick admission and 24-hour observation for properly diagnosing schizophrenia in San Diego. Our clinicians have the experience and expertise to identify symptoms of schizophrenia and provide treatment in San Diego to quickly get symptoms under control.

Options for Schizophrenia Treatment in San Diego

Schizophrenia is a chronic disorder that requires life-long treatment to successfully manage symptoms, even when they have subsided. A combination of medication management and psychosocial therapy is the best course of treatment. However, in some cases, hospitalization may be needed, such as when the person is at risk of harming themselves or others. Alter Mental Health offers options for schizophrenia treatment in San Diego through a full-team approach, which can include mental health specialists, physicians, and nurses.

Our crisis stabilization unit is an effective alternative to inpatient hospitalization during active episodes of schizophrenia to ensure safety and provide immediate, effective treatment options. Medication management is often the cornerstone of treatment to quickly get symptoms under control, which can include antipsychotics, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications. Psychotherapy techniques are also essential in managing symptoms. Alter Mental Health services will also provide referrals for ongoing services so clients can have a clear plan for long-term treatment and recovery goals.  

Treatment Types

Alter Mental Health’s San Diego mental health clinic offers whole-person wellness to treat schizophrenia, meaning we go beyond treating the symptoms and addressing all areas of a person’s life related to their disorder. Programs are personalized to include various therapies and medication management techniques to provide the best possible treatment for each client’s individual needs. Some treatment types included in schizophrenia treatment in San Diego include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a psychotherapy option for people with schizophrenia. CBT aims to find and modify thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors which may be leading to negative emotions. It is a problem-focused approach to teaching coping skills to help manage difficult situations. Therapists will teach strategies on how to manage negative thoughts and respond to them differently. Individuals with schizophrenia can learn how to test the reality of their thoughts and perceptions, ignore any voices, and manage symptoms. CBT can help individuals develop better social and problem-solving skills, reduce symptom severity, and lower the risk of relapse.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Schizophrenia is a complex disorder, and it is important to discover effective treatment modalities to aid in symptom management. Alter Mental Health will use various forms of cognitive behavioral therapy, such as dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), to find the best therapies for each individual. DBT can also be used to treat accompanying mental health disorders often seen in schizophrenia such as anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders. This form of therapy helps clients to learn emotional regulation, mindfulness, self-acceptance, and interpersonal skills as a way to reduce native thinking patterns. DBT can also treat suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, and other self-destructive behaviors.

Solution Focused Therapy (SFT)

Solution-focused therapy (SFT) is a future-oriented, goal-directed approach to treating mental health disorders at Alter Mental Health San Diego. It focuses on the client’s health, rather than the problem. Therapists will help clients describe their problems and find personal resources for solutions to those problems. This positive form of therapy encourages clients to know that change is possible and how to increase current user behaviors. While it is not used as a stand-alone treatment for major psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia symptoms, it can be used in conjunction with other more suitable psychotherapies to alleviate stress and help the person recognize their strengths.  

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Motivational interviewing (MI) is an evidence-based approach to positive behavioral changes. At its core, MI is used to elicit patient motivation by helping them say why and how they might change for themselves. It can be effective for individuals who are having difficulty making changes because they feel that other forms of psychotherapy are telling them what to do. Through MI, clients will find their own reasons to make changes and develop motivation toward recovery. MI can help patients with schizophrenia adhere to medication management and continue long-term psychotherapy.

Psychoeducational and Process Groups

Group therapy can help people living with schizophrenia learn and improve coping skills, and life skills, and reduce feelings of isolation. Our psychoeducational and process groups at Alter Mental Health San Diego help connect clients with schizophrenia with an emphasis on providing education about the disease and various techniques for managing symptoms. Psychoeducational and process groups include behavioral, cognitive, and support therapeutic elements in a group setting where peers with similar symptoms can learn and heal together while supporting one another.

Holistic Practices

As part of our whole-person approach to treating schizophrenia in San Diego, Alter Mental Health incorporates holistic practices to enhance treatment and address all areas of the person’s health-related to their disorder. While schizophrenia should primarily be treated using medication management and psychotherapy, treating a person’s physical, mental, social, and spiritual health simultaneously can help minimize symptoms. Holistic practices can include nutrition and physical exercise to manage mental health symptoms. Good nutrition and regular exercise can help regulate biochemicals and neurotransmitters in the brain naturally to reduce symptoms. Practicing self-care techniques can also help clients manage stress, anxiety, and depression related to schizophrenia and reduce the risk of relapse. Family and community support is also essential for overall health and long-term recovery.

Why Choose Alter Mental Health for Schizophrenia Treatment in San Diego

Schizophrenic episodes can be frightening, whether it is the first time experiencing one or the tenth. A person can quickly become upset, anxious, confused, suspicious, or angry and even be at risk of harming themselves or others in severe cases. Alter Mental Health in San Diego is here to help you or your loved one during times of crisis to quickly get you the treatment you need. Our crisis stabilization unit is available 24/7 to provide quick admissions and around-the-clock monitoring for recovery and safety planning.

Alter Mental Health can help individuals struggling with schizophrenia through evidence-based practices such as medication management and psychotherapy techniques. Our team of clinicians will create personalized plans for schizophrenia treatment in San Diego to stabilize symptoms and provide a thorough plan and referral for ongoing services.

If you or someone you love is struggling with schizophrenia or a mental health crisis, please call us today at 866-986-1481 to talk to one of our assessment counselors.